‘Road sharing for public good, but needs more study’
While apologizing for the traffic congestion caused by last Sunday’s road sharing experiment, organizers yesterday said the activity tested a scheme for the good of many.
“It is a small price for us to find a solution. In a vacuum, mo-ingon ta nga gubot kaayo ang traffic. (we can say traffic is chaotic) But if we can find an answer to the problem, four hours is nothing,” said Marc Canton, lead convenor of the Movement for a Livable Cebu.
In yesterday’s 888 News Forum, Canton said the problems that hound Metro Cebu at present included traffic, pollution, waste management, sanitation and health.
He said the “Green Loop” plan for Metro Cebu, which emphasizes pedestrian-friendly lanes, mass transit and less dependence on motor vehicles was just part of an integrated system of solutions that should be looked at in order to address the problems of urbanization and the lack of clear urban planning in the metropolis.
“[In terms] of traffic, the concept of road-sharing is very important. It worked in other countries so it might work here, too,” he said.
From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., four major roads in Metro Cebu were used by pedestrian and motor vehicles on a 50-50 basis last Sept. 28 with traffic enforcers at intersections guiding road users.
Early into the setup, traffic built up along the four-kilometer route as vehicles were confined to two lanes while pedestrians, bikers and skateboard users occupied the other two.
Canton said organizers of the experiment, led by MLC, will submit a formal report on the outcome to the Cebu City government.
He said they are not in a e position to say whether another experiment will be conducted in the coming months, but added that he hopes the odds would be in their favor.
“The city government will decide on that. They will be issuing the permit. We have to convince the city that it is worth it,” Canton said.
Another forum guest, Cebu City Councilor Gerry Carillo, who heads the traffic management committee of the council, was on the street with his bikers group last Sunday. He said he was there to participate and observe.
He said roads must be widened in order to effectively and efficiently share the streets and special lanes are needed to serve pedestrians and motorists who maneuver various types of vehicles.
He cited Xiamen, China where there are different types like a walkway, bike lane, main road, and lanes for motorcycles in order to avoid accidents.
“We should do that in Cebu also,” Carillo added.
Rudy Alix, co-convenor of the MLC, said the purpose of Sunday’s dry run of the “Green Loop” was to gather hard data on how people behave when they are given the right to use the streets.
Alix said this is part of the vision of MLC and Mega CEbu advocates to have a “livable” and sustainable Cebu including its component cities and towns.
He said their vision is to create “green zones” from clustered towns where people can interact freely and roam the streets safely in a city that is more “human.”
To do this, Alix said they’ve studied traffic problems experienced in Manila and taken influences from model “sustainable cities” like Melbourne in Australia, and Portland in Oregon.
“It is difficult to build a city based on copy-paste principles. We need hard data. That is the purpose of the Green Loop experiment,” he said in explaining the actual road test.
MLC convenor Teresa Ruelas said 95 percent of Cebu’s population doesn’t own a car, which makes crossing the streets and its non-existent sidewalks a “dangerous journey.”
She said last Sunday’s trial gave pedestrians a chance to enjoy the streets.
“The inconvenience that may have caused our drivers, which we would like to apologize for, [led to the] increase in awareness of those of us who never get a chance to enjoy our streets and to see Cebu from a different angle,” Ruelas said.
Youth for a Livable Cebu (YLC) convenor Francis Sollano said there are some points to learn from the road-sharing experiment.
“We in the group are more than glad to work with critics and people who feel that Green Loop was not for them. We have so much energy and we wish to translate that into something that we can all work for towards a more livable Cebu,¨ he said.
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